MinimServer Forum
What Do I Need? - Printable Version

+- MinimServer Forum (https://forum.minimserver.com)
+-- Forum: MinimServer (/forumdisplay.php?fid=1)
+--- Forum: Digital Audio (/forumdisplay.php?fid=10)
+--- Thread: What Do I Need? (/showthread.php?tid=1437)



What Do I Need? - gnomus - 21-04-2014 13:06

I hope I am posting in the correct forum.

I'm a little uncertain as to how to proceed. I have one room in which I can listen to music. This is the same room that houses my AV system.

At the moment, I have an Oppo Blu Ray player and an old LP12 connected to an Arcam AV8 preamp. This then outputs through 3 x Meridian 555 Stereo Power Amplifiers. Speakers are B&W Rear and Centre and Naim SBLs at L&R Front. Up to now I have been listening to CDs via the Oppo.

I bought some Sonos gear primarily to check whether I can get streaming working. This has whetted my appetite for something with a little more quality. I'm considering either a Linn or Naim system.

My first question is - am I likely to achieve the best sound by attempting to integrate the streamer into my AV system, or by setting up a separate Stereo-only set up in the same room?

I do have some bits and pieces lying around that could be put to use. I have a Krell KSL (with phono preamp) and KST 100 lying about doing nothing at present. I also have another pair of B&W speakers that could be put into the AV system to free up the SBLs. That would allow me to have a reasonable AV setup and a stereo setup consisting Streamer (Linn/Naim), LP12, Krell Pre/Power into Naim SBLs. (Admittedly having the Naim SBLs flanked by the B&W speakers is going to look a little odd, but there is enough room. I don't suppose I can plug the outputs from two separate amplifiers [Meridian and Krell) into the same speaker can I?)

Alternatively, I could think about getting one of the DSM Linn Streamers and selling/trading the Krell gear to help finance that option.

I'd be interested in hearing views (and in getting some recommendations). I may be able to fix up a visit to demo some equipment later this week.


RE: What Do I Need? - DavidHB - 22-04-2014 12:11

You face a common problem; how much should the introduction of a streaming system into you hi-fi setup change things? Is it just another source, or a game changer? My experience suggests that, for many people, it is the latter.

This thread describes my own starting point, seven months or so ago. Post #14 in this thread completes the story. While our equipment inventories are different, the 'integrate or replace' question was/is the same for both of us.

You have, in my view, started in exactly the right way by experimenting at (relatively) low cost. Before you make a major investment, my experience suggests that getting the infrastructure right (if you haven't already done so) is the important next step. If you want to use a lossless format (e.g. FLAC), and probably also transcoding, make sure that the connection between your music server and your player is by Ethernet, ideally using a decent quality switch rather than the switch component of your ISP-supplied router. If you are using a NAS as your server (which I think is the best arrangement), try to put it somewhere where it will not be audible in the listening environment - good NASs have quiet fans, but there is often a bit of disk noise (unless you are using an SSD!).

The choice of player/renderer is very much a matter of sound quality, and therefore of careful and personal choice in dealer demonstrations. But you also need to ensure that the player you choose has software for your preferred computing platform; Naim, for example, do not currently have a control point for Android. If there is third party software you like (e.g. Bubble DS/UPnP), try it with your favoured player. This process may mean that you need to compromise in some way.

If your main listening source has been CD and/or FM radio up to now, a high quality streamer will change that choice radically. For most purposes, the internet radio capabilities of the streamer (or of MinimStreamer) will make FM and DAB radio redundant. And a good streamer will, it is now generally thought, out-perform a correspondingly good CD player. With the streamer, you are buying a high quality DAC; it will often make sense to connect the CD player digitally to the streamer (if it has that capability), to play those CDs you have not yet ripped.

But you will rapidly find, I think, that you will be using the streamer most if not nearly all of the time. This means that the priority will be to get the highest quality signal path from the streamer to the speakers that you can manage. Configurations here vary; some streamers are source components for a conventional Hi-Fi system, others (like my Akurate DSM) incorporate what is essentially a combined analogue and digital pre-amplifier, while a third group has built in power amplification.

(later EDIT: I'm sorry; in the first version of this post, I had not paid enough attention to your list of equipment 'lying around'.) In your case, if the Krell amplification and your speakers sound as good to you as I think they would to me, the simplest solution for best stereo sound quality is an ordinary renderer/streamer feeding an analogue input on the Krell. At that level of quality, you would probably be looking at the Naim NDX or the Linn Akurate DS to provide an appropriate front end; these particular products do not have extra features (CD drive, amplification) you would not need, so their considerable cost is at least all spent on the player. The Naim has wifi connectivity (a mixed blessing, see above) and a USB input (both of which Linn refuse to include in their products), and is the cheaper option, but now that Linn's Exakt technology is being introduced into the Akurate range, there may be a few second hand Akurate DS players for sale. If you want other options, the Lumin player may be worth a look. In the end, it will, as I have said, be down to sound quality and what a dealer you trust and who is willing to give a decent demo can supply.

As regards your alternative approach, I have no experience with integrating music and AV systems. Some music systems (again like my Akurate) can function as the left and right front channels of an AV system, and pass through the remaining channels via HDMI to another decoder/amplifier. I suspect that is a messy solution unless the music system is the priority. Enabling HDMI on my Akurate also has a small but noticeable effect on sound quality; I don't know whether other players have the same issue. With the equipment you already have, for best music sound quality a separate stereo system will, I suspect, be the easiest and cheapest to set up, provided of course that having two systems in your living area is domestically acceptable.

I hope these thoughts are of some interest. I think that you are going to have an enjoyable, if somewhat expensive, time ... Smile

David


RE: What Do I Need? - gnomus - 27-04-2014 11:03

(22-04-2014 12:11)DavidHB Wrote:  You face a common problem; how much should the introduction of a streaming system into you hi-fi setup change things? ...
...
As regards your alternative approach, I have no experience with integrating music and AV systems. ...
...
I hope these thoughts are of some interest. I think that you are going to have an enjoyable, if somewhat expensive, time ... Smile

David

David

I've been somewhat busy (see below) and didn't take the time to thank you for your detailed and extremely helpful post. It did help sort out my thinking quite a bit. Having demoed a few boxes, I decided upon an Akurate. For others who may be starting from a similar situation, it may be helpful to outline what I have done.

I have "semi-integrated" this into my system as follows:

1. Akurate (& old LP12) plug into the Krell pre-amp using balanced connectors
2. Balanced outputs of Krell pre-amp feed Krell Power Amp
3. Line outputs of Arcam AV8 go into Line inputs on Krell Power Amp

Once I reset all the levels of the AV8, I now have:

A) An AV system that uses the Krell Power for Front L&R into the Naim SBLs
B) A "pure stereo-only" system that is Akurate, Krell KSL/KST & Naim SBL

(22-04-2014 12:11)DavidHB Wrote:  Is [a streamer] just another source, or a game changer? My experience suggests that, for many people, it is the latter.

I have to agree with this statement. I am very pleased with my new 'toy'. I've never heard anything quite like it .... (until, that is, I went back to the shop the following day to listen to an Exact System, 'Linn Lounge' event).

Thanks again for your help David


RE: What Do I Need? - simoncn - 27-04-2014 14:39

(27-04-2014 11:03)gnomus Wrote:  1. Akurate (& old LP12) plug into the Krell pre-amp using balanced connectors

How did you do this for the LP12? My LP12 has unbalanced outputs only.


RE: What Do I Need? - gnomus - 27-04-2014 18:31

(27-04-2014 14:39)simoncn Wrote:  
(27-04-2014 11:03)gnomus Wrote:  1. Akurate (& old LP12) plug into the Krell pre-amp using balanced connectors

How did you do this for the LP12? My LP12 has unbalanced outputs only.

Sorry, Simon. In trying to keep my post brief, I sacrificed clarity. The Akurate uses the balanced inputs, the LP12 is into the line-level phono pre-amp on the Krell.